WITH the dust settling on what was a golden week at the 2022 Dublin Horse Show, it’s well worth reflecting on how an RDS decision taken some 16 years ago has paid off in spades for the Irish equine industry.

In about 2006, the RDS implemented its groundbreaking Irish-bred restriction in their prestigious young horse classes, effectively done as a wake-up jolt to the country’s breeders, producers and riders to improve their lines and breeding families.

With the golden era of the 60s and 70s well faded, we had reached a point where there were no Irish-bred horses on any of the RDS Nations Cup teams, compared to half a century before when aorund 50% of the various team horses would have been bred in Ireland. In a relatively short space of time, that picture has now thankfully changed.

Some new stars have since emerged from these restricted classes and placing Irish-breds at the core of Dublin’s national classes has brought back a dimension which had been almost extinct for some 30 years. It has again opened up the door for small breeders and farmer/breeders to aspire to breeding a top international horse. There’s been considerable support in the industry with seminars, conferences, etc., programmes, schemes, knowledged transfer, via Horse Sport Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the key role that Teagasc has and continues to play in this area has made an enormous contribution.

Aga Khan squad horses

Take this year’s Aga Khan squad for example where two Irish-bred horses jumped on our winning team - Cian O’Connor’s mount Kilkenny, bred by Kilkenny’s Sinead Brennan and Shane Sweetnam’s CSF James Khan Cruz, bred by Galway’s Patrick Connolly. In addition, our Aga Khan reserve was Co Kilkenny’s Jack Ryan’s McGregor, bred by his mother Marguerite, while also initially named on the Aga Khan squad was Bertram Allen’s Pacino Amiro, bred by Donegal’s Simon Scott.

It’s very exciting chapter for Irish sport horse breeding right now and the ground that has been made up in the relatively short space of less than 20 years is very encouraging to see. This week’s Irish Horse World bumper issue is 43 pages, bringing you wall-to-wall RDS coverage - we hope you enjoy it.